GE Aviation (Chalet P2) is gearing up for certification testing of its Catalyst turboprop engine program, with the first engine wrapping up initial testing and the second test copy recently completing its first few hours in the test cell at GE Aviation’s Czech Republic facility.
“The engine is performing very well,” said Brad Mottier, v-p and general manager of GE Aviation’s Business and General Aviation and Integrated Systems division. “It's been through the full power and all of our data shows we are at or above performance expectations, so we feel pretty confident about how it will perform.”
The engine maker unveiled the 900- to 1,700-shp engine program, nee the Advance Turboprop (ATP), in November 2015 with its first application in hand, the Cessna Denali turboprop single.
In March, GE Aviation gave the ATP its official name—the Catalyst, signifying the program is “a catalyst for change,” Mottier had said. Emphasizing that the engine is not intended only to provide a means to go faster or be more fuel efficient, Mottier said it is designed to change the pilot experience to more of a “jet like” environment. This includes a simplified cockpit with a single-lever engine and propeller Fadec control. The engine will initially enter service with a 4,000-hour time-between-overhaul period, up to a 33 percent increase from similar engines in the class. GE Aviation’s long-term goal is to move toward on-condition maintenance capabilities.
With a 16:1 pressure ratio, the Catalyst will provide up to 20 percent lower fuel burn and 10 percent higher cruise power than its competitors, said GE Aviation.
The formal naming of the Catalyst came as GE Aviation had moved into the testing phase of the engine program, completing first run for the first model—a 1,240-shp variant for the Cessna Denali—in December. The engine had accrued close to 40 hours of testing at GE’s test cell before moving to a new test cell as part of a collaboration with a Czech Technical University team in Prague
Since then that engine has reached close to 100 hours in an 800-channel test rig, and the company says initial testing on this engine is nearly complete.
The next engine, referred to as 005, has completed its first few hours and will head to Canada this summer for altitude testing. Three more engines are slated to travel to Wichita, Kansas later this year in preparation for the Denali’s first flight in early 2019.
While work is ongoing on the Catalyst, GE Aviation continues to expand its H-Series portfolio. One of its latest applications is an aerobatic variant of the H75 for the new Diamond Dart military trainer. Diamond flew that trainer equipped with the 550-shp H75-100 for the first time in May and has the aircraft on display at the Farnborough Airshow.
GE Aviation, which delivered the 300th H-Series engine last year (an H80-200), has more than a dozen applications for the line. In addition to the Dart, the Let 410NG is coming to market with the H85. Meanwhile, Thrush is closing in on certification of GE Aviation’s electronic engine and propeller control system on the H80 powering the 510G agricultural airplane.
This activity comes as GE Aviation celebrates 10 years in the business and general aviation turboprop sector that began with its 2008 acquisition of the former Walter Engines turboprop family. That line later evolved into the H Series.